2009 by Walter D. Reimer
courtesy of Eric
Monday May 24
The terrier and the rat stood by as the dormitory’s proctor and the
Dean of Students opened the door to Stevenson’s room. “Hard to
believe that we had a murderer here,” the Dean muttered.
“He’s only accused,” Michaels
said. “He ain’t guilty yet.”
“Close enough, according to the
papers,” the proctor, a fat bear, remarked as he found the right key
and opened the door.
“Ah, what do the papers know,”
Detective Proctor said. “Most of ‘em are good for wrapping fish,
and that’s all.” He stepped in front of the bear and eased the
door open, looking around.
The weight of evidence against
the rabbit had increased when his shoes had been examined. The
tread pattern was a close match for the shoeprints found in the
Otterholt House. No cuts were found on his paws on a cursory
inspection, but a small nick could have healed up.
The room held two beds, two
dressers, desks and chairs, and a closet. The bathroom was
communal, down the hallway to the left. A blue Collegiate pennant
hung from one wall, and the rat could see clothes hanging in the closet.
“Okay, we’ll take it from here,”
he said. “If we need anything we’ll yell.”
The Dean harrumphed and walked
away, while the bear hung around a while, watching interestedly as the
two detectives entered the room.
The two detectives had already
decided on the best approach, so they each took a side, carefully
checking the bedding, mattresses and bed frames before moving on to the
other furniture. Examination of the dressers followed, then the
desks and chairs.
“What the hell’s this?” the rat
asked, holding up a small stub of what looked like a grease pencil.
“Looks like a styptic pencil.”
“Styptic pencil,” Michaels
said. “Some furs – well, they shave, y’know. That’s used to
close up small cuts.”
“That so? What do you know
“Ain’t telling,” the terrier said
as he took the pencil from Proctor and dropped it in a bag.
After a further half-hour
Michaels was checking the window frame and started when several
students down the hall started singing. From the slurred words
and disjointed tune most of the group was drunk:
Mademoiselle from Old Dock
Mademoiselle from Old Dock
Her fur’s falling out, her
knees will knock,
And her muzzle can stop a
Hinky, dinky, parley-voo.
Proctor shook his head and
snorted. “College students. Well, that looks like
that. We only got the closet left to do.”
“Okay.” The terrier opened
the door and the two started removing items of clothing from their
hangers, searching each one carefully before laying it aside on the
bed. When the closet was empty they switched on an electric torch
and started to examine the closet itself.
“Hold it,” Proctor said.
“Get the camera and the ruler.” He held the beam of light on a
small scrap of yellowish-brown paper in a far corner of the
closet. He laid the ruler down beside it, then took several
pictures from the closet doorway and close up before picking the paper
up with tweezers and holding it up to the light.
The scrap of paper looked as if
it had been torn in half vertically, and appeared to be a label.
Signs of the gum adhesive could be seen on one side, and the other side
bore paw-written cursive letters:
The rat grinned toothily at the
terrier, who matched the grin. “As my grandma says,” Proctor
27 River Avenue, North Haven
“Excuse me, Ma’am,
is this the Stevenson residence?” the raccoon asked, doffing his hat
politely and holding it in his paws as the rabbit doe opened the
door. The house was part of a good neighborhood – not exactly
wealthy, but not exactly a slum, either. The road behind him and
Detective Banner was lined with oak trees.
It was a cloudy morning,
promising rain by the afternoon.
“Yes, I’m Mrs. Stevenson,” the
doe said in a guarded tone. She was dressed in a floral chintz
dress and an apron. “Who are you?”
“Ma’am, I’m Sergeant DiAngelo of
the State Police,” and Frank produced his badge. “This is
Detective Banner. We’d like to ask you a few questions regarding
The door slammed in his face.
“You can go to hell!” the woman
shouted from behind the door. “Talk to my husband!”
“Where can we find your husband,
Ma’am?” DiAngelo asked. He willed himself to be patient and
resisted the temptation to kick the door down. “Ma’am?”
When she replied, her voice was
breaking into sobs. “City Hall.”
The two detectives looked at each
other. “City Hall,” Banner said.
“I bet we ain’t gonna like this a
bit,” DiAngelo said.
1 State Street, North Haven
Finding the center
of North Haven’s city government was fairly simple, and the
receptionist at the front desk was very helpful. “Mr. Stevenson?”
the raccooness echoed, batting her lashes at DiAngelo. “Oh!
You mean Mayor Stevenson. His office is upstairs.”
I thought he was only an alderman.
“Thanks,” Frank said
pleasantly. He and Banner headed for the stairs and went up one
ROGER G. STEVENSON, read the
painted legend on the door, MAYOR.
“Hoo boy,” Banner sighed.
The secretary heard them out,
then excused herself and went into the inner office. A low
conversation ensued, and she emerged to say, “He’ll see you now,
Mayor Stevenson turned out to be
an older copy of Wyatt, with graying fur and bifocals. He stood
and straightened his vest as Banner and DiAngelo walked in and all
three shook paws. “Good morning, gentlemen,” he said with a
practiced smile. “What can I do for you?”
“Sir, I’m Sergeant DiAngelo, and
this is Detective Banner. We’d like to ask you a few questions
regarding your son.”
“Yes, my wife just got off the
phone with me. She’s quite upset over all this.”
“I apologize for that, Sir.
All we had was his home address – “
Not your fault.” The rabbit sat down in a leather armchair behind
his desk. “I’d be upset as well, but fortunately I know the truth
Frank blinked. “The truth,
“Yes, the truth. Oh, I
didn’t expect you two to know this, Sergeant. You’re only doing
what you’re told, of course. My son is, quite naturally, being
“Yes, framed. This is a
very well-crafted, but quite transparent, ploy to discredit me
politically. If there’s anyone to blame for my son’s arrest, it’s
“I’m sure he may have a paw in
it,” Stevenson said as he lit a cigarette. “But the Stagg I refer
to is his brother Prescott. You see, his Civic Union Party’s been
trying to gain the mayoralty here in North Haven for over ten
years. This town’s Progressive Alliance and proud of it, but he
never will stop intriguing.” He paused and took a few drags on
his cigarette. “By railroading my son, he undermines me in the
eyes of the voters here, see?”
“Sir, be that as it may, I have
to do my job – “
“Of course, of course. I
wanted to get that off my chest. Rest assured, however, that I
will be filing suit against the State Police for false arrest and
unlawful prosecution. Now,” and he sat back in his chair, “what
are your questions?”
Frank DiAngelo sat blinking at
the rabbit for a few seconds, then caught himself and opened his
notebook. “We, er, have your son’s academic records, Your Honor,
but we’re just looking for some background on him. You know, home
and family life – things like that.”
“Hmm. Wyatt’s me and
Adelaide’s oldest – he has a brother and two sisters. I had
thought he’d get a job with me at the bank, but he wanted to go to
medical school. Collegiate has gone a bit downhill since I went
there, but their medical school’s good. You heard he was studying
to become a pediatrician?”
Both detectives nodded.
“A very noble calling,” the elder
Stevenson said. “Children are the only true innocents, you
know. Hmm, what else? Wyatt was an altar boy up at Saint
Thomas’ . . . I’m not quite sure what you’re fishing for,
Sergeant. Wyatt’s always been a good boy.”
“Thank you, Sir. You’ve
been very helpful,” and DiAngelo and Banner stood. “Sorry to
“No need to apologize, Sergeant,”
Stevenson said as they shook paws, “but I’ve been bothered, and now
it’s my turn to bother them. Have a safe trip back to New Haven
“He said what?”
Chief Stagg asked.
Paulie repeated what DiAngelo had
reported, and he watched the whitetail buck sag backward in his
chair. “This is what comes of having a bad reputation for so many
years,” he muttered. “Is our evidence solid?”
“As solid as we can make it, Sir,
and we’re still working on one other piece – two, actually.”
“What are they?”
“There’s a piece of gum with
paper wrapped around it. The paper could be a trolley ticket but
we can’t be certain until it’s unwrapped. Professor Braganza is
working on it. The other missing piece is the bottle that matches
the piece of label we found.”
Stagg nodded to himself.
“Make sure you contact the Chief Prosecutor’s office today and arrange
to have the evidence and witness lists sent over. We can’t afford
NHSP Crime Laboratory
Wednesday May 26
grinned as Detective Proctor walked in. The goat said, “Good
“Hi, Prof,” the rat said.
“Phone message said ya got something?”
“Yes. I’ve managed to get
that ticket separated from the gum it was wrapped around. Had to
freeze the gum, then sliced it.”
“Great! Ticket, eh?”
Braganza nodded. “Trolley
ticket.” He used a pair of tweezers to pick up the piece of
paper, now encased in cellophane. “Hard getting all that gum
removed, I’ll tell you, but the printing’s still largely intact.”
“So, what trolley?”
“See for yourself. New
Haven Blue Line.”
Proctor took the ticket and
looked at it. “Blue Line, huh. Any prints?”
“Yes,” and the goat pointed at
the back of the ticket. “It’s only a partial, but what’s there
matches the suspect’s fingerprints.”
“Great work, Prof.”
Blue Line Trolley Barn
his step to get out of the path of an arriving trolley and his ears
flattened at the noise inside the barn. Trolleys were being
worked on while others were either departing or arriving. The
terrier made his way to the dispatcher’s office and knocked.
He walked in to see a harried
mastiff camped behind a desk piled high with paperwork. A roster
hung from the wall behind him along with a calendar featuring a
strategically-undraped bear femme. Several clipboards teetered on
The canine looked up at him and
put out his cigar. “Who’re you? We ain’t hiring.”
Michaels showed his badge.
“I already got a job, and it’s asking you questions.”
A grin split the burly dog’s
muzzle. “Easiest job I’ve had to do all day. Whatcha got?”
After taking down the man’s name
the terrier asked, “You got the records for car number 126?” He’d
memorized the car number off the ticket before coming down to the barn.
“I’m looking for May eleventh and
twelfth. I need the route and who was working it that night.”
“Okay.” A clipboard was
pulled from the stack and consulted, then another. “Eight to
four, or four to midnight?”
“Okay.” Two sheets of paper
were yanked out of the clipboard and given to the terrier, who slipped
them into a bag. “Hey! Whatcha doin’?”
“Taking them. They’re
“Don’t give me that crap.
We get audited at the end of the month, an’ the union’ll get pissed–“
“I’ll write ya a note,
okay? Now, where are these guys?”
213 Conti Street, 1730:
Conti Street had
earned the sobriquet ‘Rotgut Row’ from the large number of liquor
stores in the area, a collection that ran nearly six blocks along the
Blue Line’s route from the center of New Haven City to Republic
Station. Visitors from the United States would usually take the
trolley along the road and stop there to purchase alcohol before
returning to home and Prohibition, giving the street its nickname.
O’Malley’s was the sixth shop
Michaels had entered, and there were still seven more on the stretch of
A small bell jingled as he walked
into the shop and the bear behind the counter said, “Hi, friend!
What can I do for you?”
The terrier introduced himself
and asked, “Blue Line comes by here all the time?”
“I know it’s been a couple weeks,
but do you recall seeing this guy back on the eleventh?” and Michaels
showed the ursine a copy of Stevenson’s mug shot.
“Hmm. He from around here?”
“Not this neighborhood.”
“No, I meant is he from this
country? I get a lot of foreigners.”
“He’s not a Yank.”
“Hmm . . . “ The bear
cupped his chin with a paw as he gazed at the photograph, then snapped
his fingers. “Got it!”
“You remember him, then?”
Michaels tried to hide his relief. Any more liquor stores and he
was seriously considering getting drunk. “He might have bought a
bottle – “
“Of Housatonic, right?”
“How do you remember that?”
The bear waved a paw at the racks
of bottles. “Some of the people come in here are regulars, from
around here,” he explained, “so they know what to buy. Tourists,
though, don’t know no better. They buy the Housatonic ‘cause it’s
cheap, so they think they’re getting a bargain.” He
shrugged. “Just seemed odd that a guy with a New Haven accent –
who ain’t a wino – would be buyin’ that cheap stuff. Seemed odd
Michaels took down the bear’s
statement and name, then bought a bottle of GlenMacCumhail Scotch.
He would want a drink later.
Right now he had to take the
trolley back to the barn.
Michaels had called
and asked Banner to join him at the trolley barn, and the two of them
stood looking at Car 126 as it sat on a small spur of track. “You
sure about this?” the tabby asked.
“Yeah, you know the Boss is gonna
want this thing searched, just to be sure.”
“I don’t know what you hope to
find,” the shop steward remarked irritably. “We clean the cars
every night after they get to the barn.”
“Well, you know bosses – ours
would get steamed if we didn’t look at everything. We’ll let you
know if we find anything,” Michaels said as the two detectives opened
their Murder Box and started to work.
Despite the shop steward’s
protestations there was ample dirt and grime under the benches and in
dark corners, shoved there by brooms and mops. Banner and
Michaels worked carefully along the length of the car, using electric
torches to light their way.
“Good thing this thing ain’t a
double-decker, ain’t it?” Banner asked. He grinned at Michaels’
grunt and added, “I mean, we got the guy dead to rights – hey!
“What’s what?” Michaels asked.
“Got something, I think, way in
the back there.” Banner sat back on his haunches. “You’ve
got longer arms, I can’t reach it.”
“Here, let me – Stubby,” and
Michaels chuckled as Banner growled at him. He grunted as he
stretched out prone, reaching as far as he could. “Hang on,
almost got a finger on it . . . got it! Watch your feet,” and he
swept the object out into the open aisle between the benches.
“Yech!” Banner yelped at the
sight of the used condom. “I thought they said these things was
“Yeah, lucky you – your arms are
shorter,” Michaels grumbled, still under the bench. “Pass me that
Banner did so, and after a moment
Michaels said, “That lambskin was covering something. Let me . .
. okay, got it. Coming out.” The terrier, looking a bit
grimy, wormed his way out from under the bench and sat back.
“Whew! Cramped under there.”
“What did you find?”
“This.” He held up a small
brown glass bottle impaled on a pencil, with a torn paper label.
“Writing matches the label me and Proctor found. Empty; looks
like he dumped the whole thing into the whiskey.” He pulled a
small cellophane bag from his pocket and bagged the bottle.
“Here, lend me a paw.”
“Which one did you grab that
lambskin with?” Banner asked, recoiling.
Superior Court Building
Monday July 31, 0800:
constructed in a severe Gothic style, was large and the gallery was
filling quickly as members of the press and others entered. No
one had entered the well of the courtroom yet, and some in the gallery
remarked upon the small table before the Bench that bore a simple pair
of black leather gloves and a square of black cloth.
It was the Black Cap, symbol of
the Court’s power to inflict the supreme sanction for murder.
The onlookers in the gallery
slowly stopped talking as the chief bailiff stepped into the courtroom
and announced, “The Superior Court of the Republic of New Haven is now
in session! All those having business before this Honorable Court
are enjoined to draw near! God save the Republic, and this
A bare beat later and the
audience rose as the bailiff intoned, “Hear ye, hear ye, the case of
the Republic of New Haven versus Wyatt Gerard Stevenson is now being
heard. The Honorable Judge Abraham Kilbride is presiding,” and a
black-robed and bewigged wolfhound stepped in and took his position at
the Bench. He remained standing, as did the audience, as the jury
filed into their box and the attorneys took their positions. When
the jury sat, Kilbride took his seat and gaveled for order.
“Is the Defense ready?” Kilbride
Maxwell Galbraith, a portly
bulldog, rose and bowed. “The Defense is ready, Your Honor.”
“Is the Prosecution ready?”
John King, a red-tailed hawk,
stood and did likewise. “The Republic stands ready, Your Honor.”
“Bailiff, admit the accused.”
The chief bailiff called out,
“Wyatt Gerard Stevenson, come into the Court!”
Heads turned as the rabbit was
led into the courtroom by two bailiffs, and took his seat in the
dock. His fur was clean and well-groomed and he was dressed in a
new suit. He looked up at the gallery and smiled shyly when he
caught sight of his father and mother.
Kilbride said, “The Court will
entertain opening statements. Mr. Prosecutor.”
“Thank you, Your Honor.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, in the early morning hours of
Wednesday, May twelfth a man stole through a sleeping house and
viciously murdered five young women. Women, I hasten to add, that
were studying to become nurses. The Prosecution’s case, ladies
and gentlemen, is clear – that based upon the evidence the Republic
will prove beyond all doubt that the five awful murders on that fateful
night were done by the man you see before you in the dock, one Wyatt
Stevenson.” The hawk bowed to the Bench and resumed his seat.
Galbraith stood and paused a
moment as if in thought before saying, “Ladies and gentlemen of the
jury, it is with great regret that we mourn the passing of those five
young women, their lives cut off so brutally. But the man you see
before you in the dock is not the man who could do this. My task
is a simple one, ladies and gentlemen – my task is to save this young
man’s life, for he is innocent. Yes, innocent I say,” and he
raised his voice against a murmured susurrus from the gallery.
“Against the might and power of this Republic, only I and the truth
stand to defend this young man. I relish this task, because I
shall win.” He eased himself back into his chair.
“Is the Republic ready to proceed
with its case?”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
“Call your first witness.”
“The Republic calls Lisa
Daniels,” and the trial began.
King was an experienced
prosecutor. He steadily built the case against Stevenson piece by
piece, using evidence and the testimony of witnesses to paint a
portrait of the young rabbit as a jilted lover who had finally had
enough of the five women who had scorned him in turn.
Galbraith, on the other paw,
worked to cast doubt on the credibility of the witnesses (concentrating
on the dead girls’ reputations as ‘loose women’) and questioned the
State Police’s handling of the case and the veracity of the
evidence. He concluded his cross-examination of the last of the
girls at the Otterholt House in time for the lunch recess.
Many spectators in the gallery
found it hard to tear themselves away from the action unfolding beneath
them even though there was an equally fascinating case developing in
the adjacent courtroom. There the civil case of Stevenson v.
Drake was in progress, pitting the Mayor of North Haven against the
Prime Minister and Government of the Republic on charges of false
arrest and unlawful prosecution in furtherance of a political
agenda. Prescott Stagg, leader of the Civic Union Party, was a
Prime Minister Nelson Drake had
pled sovereign immunity, a plea that had been granted by Governor
Nutella. The squirrel, while quite willing to let the
conservative gander avoid the trial, did not extend the same courtesy
to the whitetail buck. Watchers in the gallery at that trial had
been laying bets as to how long Prescott could contain his well-known
and volatile temper.
The spectators gave their full
attention, though, when the bailiff said, “The Court calls Lieutenant
Paul Pentaleoni to the stand!”
The red deer had thought about
wearing his State Police uniform, but had instead opted for his best
suit. He walked past the dock and stepped into the witness box as
the clerk stood by with a Bible.
Paulie took the book in his left
paw and raised his right paw. “Before Almighty God I swear that
the testimony I shall give shall be the whole truth,” gave the Bible
back to the clerk and sat down.
King stood, smoothing his neck
feathers down with a paw. “Please give us your name, who you work
for and for how long, for the record please.”
“Paul Pentaleoni. I am a
Detective Lieutenant with the New Haven State Police. I have
served with the State Police since 1906.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant. You
were lead investigator on this case?”
“Please tell the jury the
sequence of events leading up to the murders.”
“Yes, Sir. We determined,
by careful examination of the evidence and through accounts by
witnesses, that the Defendant – “
“That would be Mr. Stevenson?”
“The Defendant purchased a bottle
of Housatonic Blended Whiskey from O’Malley’s Liquors on Conti Street
on the night of May eleventh. He was observed by the trolley’s
conductor taking a drink from the bottle as the trolley made its usual
route. The closest stop to the Otterholt House is at Green
Avenue, a distance of six blocks.”
“How long does it take for the
Blue Line trolley to go from O’Malley’s Liquors to the Green Avenue
“How do you know that?”
“We timed it.”
“Go on, Lieutenant.”
“We believe that the Defendant
added the contents of a one-ounce bottle of chloral hydrate to the
contents of the whiskey bottle during the trip,” Paulie said. “We
determined that the party at the Otterholt’s boarding house started at
about eight P.M. and lasted until ten. Mr. Otterholt states that
the last male member of the party left by ten-fifteen.”
“But Mr. Stevenson was
Galbraith, who had been sitting
quietly, said, “Objection. Calls for opinion on the part of the
King turned to the Bench.
“Your Honor, we are basing this on the evidence at paw, along with
testimony by the surviving women.”
Judge Kilbride nodded.
“Go ahead, Lieutenant.”
“Mr. Stevenson was, according to
many of the witnesses, a very quiet fur, and he had been at the house
several times before. Based on the evidence he hid in a disused
coal cellar to avoid being made to leave. While there he wrapped
his gum up in the trolley ticket he had, discarding it in the
cellar. He waited until the lights were out before moving.”
“Is there any other evidence that
Mr. Stevenson was in the coal cellar?”
“Yes. Two shoeprints.
The tread pattern and size match his. And there were traces of
“I see. Now, Lieutenant,
tell us how the murders were committed.” The spectators in the
gallery quieted and a hush fell over the courtroom.
Paulie kept his eyes on the
jury. “Based on the evidence from the crime scene, the Defendant
went upstairs to the second floor. Elaine Somerville died first,
followed by Sandy Jones.”
“Dr. Rivers and Professor
Braganza have given us their findings,” King said. “Continue,
“Yes, Sir. Mr. Stevenson
then went downstairs to the first floor and killed Charlotte Ramsey and
Lacey King, then killed Sally Jones. He then cleaned himself up
with a towel that was found in the bathroom.”
“Did he do anything else while in
“He wrote on the bathroom mirror.”
“What did he write?”
“And that means?”
“’God Wills It.’”
“I see. Do we know why he
“No, Sir. The Defendant has
not been forthcoming.”
“And then what happened?”
“The Defendant left the Otterholt
“And about what time was this?”
“Starting sometime around two
A.M. and ending after about a half-hour.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant. No
further questions.” King went back to his seat as Galbraith stood.
The bulldog grasped the lapels of
his robe and asked, “So, Lieutenant, why are there so many gaps in the
story you’ve just given us? Why don’t we know for certain who was
“Mr. Stevenson has not told us.”
“And he hasn’t told you why he
“The theory we’ve advanced, based
on witness testimony, is that Mr. Stevenson was angry with the women.”
“Mr. Stevenson is – well, he was
teased by the women because he was unable to satisfy them. In
bed, that is.” Paulie blushed as several people in the gallery
“Ah. And he told you this?”
The bulldog favored the jury with
a long look before asking, “Did Mr. Stevenson tell you why he wrote in
Latin on the mirror?”
Galbraith turned to Paulie,
looking astonished. “Do you mean he didn’t confess,
Lieutenant? When faced with the evidence and your theory of the
crime, he didn’t collapse sobbing in his chair and beg to tell you all?”
“No, Sir. He has not
confessed to the crimes.”
“Ah! So perhaps he didn’t
do them, then? Perhaps the State Police has got the wrong man?”
King was on his feet.
“Objection! Counsel for the Defense knows that there is no
Before Kilbride could say
anything Galbraith turned away from the red deer, flipping a paw
nonchalantly. “No further questions at this time.”
The wolfhound harrumphed at the
bulldog and said, “We shall recess for lunch until one o’clock, at
which time the Defense shall present its case.” He struck the
Bench with his gavel and stood.